Monday, August 23, 2010

How Old were Jesus’ Disciples?

Life expectancy in the Roman Empire was 35 years of age. According to an author of the time, a person at age 10, expected to live another 35 years.*

Mentally, we tended to think the disciples were roughly the same age as Jesus. 30 years +/- 5 years. (Most Sunday School pictures depict them in that age range.) According to this Chart on Roman Life Expectancy, they would most likely be dead by 53 CE. [If they were younger, say 25 years old, their life expectancy was even less—to 51 CE!]

An alternative Chart indicates if they were 25, their life expectancy would be 57 CE, or at 30, would be 59 CE.

Simply put, by the time Paul started writing his letters, we would expect many of them to be dead. By the time of the Jewish wars, we would expect all of them to be dead.

We don’t often think about life expectancy—we have a terrible tendency to “project” our own life expectancy of 70 years on people of the time.

Yet simply put, even if the Gospels were written in 65 CE—most of the eyewitnesses would be dead by then. A fact of living in that time.

*Edited, thanks to Vinny.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why Courtrooms are unkind to claims

In discussing the Walker decision on Proposition 8, I found this quote by Jason Rosenhouse.

It also occurred to me that there are a lot of similarities between this decision and the decision in the Dover evolution case. Hard-core right-wingers live in a fantasy world of their own creation. It is a world in which creationism and ID are legitimate science and evolution is not. It is also a world in which gay couples pose some sort of threat to heterosexual marriage, or are too morally suspect to raise children. When thundered from a stage or a pulpit to a generally supportive audience, such notions play very well. But put them in a forum with rules of evidence and a sober, nonemotional tone, and they crumble. Judge Walker in this case was absolutely scathing towards the defense, just as Judge Jones was in the Dover case. When forced to defend their ideas rationally, the right-wingers always come off looking like fools.